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3 Tips for Keeping that Project on Time

How the marketing world has changed! Whether you are being asked to produce projects in print, email, mobile, or for your website, schedules are compressed. There are more channels to integrate. Everything is more urgent. How do you keep everything running on time and on a budget? Here is a quick guide from Workfront, a project management platform, for simplifying the project management process. These steps apply whether you use third-party project management software or not.

1. Improve the intake process. Most marketing departments have requests coming in from multiple directions. How do you keep track of how much work is coming in, what the expectations are, and what the priorities should be?

• Create a single funnel for all work requests. Whether it’s one person, a dedicated email address, or a software program, create a single point of contact. No more sticky notes, text message requests, or “desk flybys.”
• Develop a template that gathers the details of each project. What is the scope? What is the timeframe? Collecting all (and we mean all!) of the information upfront in a systematic, standardized way allows you to prioritize and manage projects effectively.
• Set up a response protocol. How many times do people submit a second request because they think the first one fell into a deep, dark hole? Respond to each request within a set time frame.

Step 2: Set up a standardized workflow. Have weekly kickoff meetings with all of the stakeholders. Get agreement on timelines and details. You don’t want anyone coming back later and saying, “I didn’t agree to that.” Or, “That’s not what we discussed.” Ensure that everyone is in alignment with the scopes upfront (no scope creep!).

Also answer questions such as:
• Who will be spearheading each project? Someone must be ultimately accountable for moving the project along.
• What is the schedule for updates? With regular, detailed updates, things stay on task, and people are held accountable.
• Are any of these projects repeatable? Whether it’s direct mail, a landing page, or an email blast, setting up templates for a similar and ongoing project can save you tons of time.

Step 3: Streamline approvals with digital proofing. Establish a clear understanding of who needs to review and approve work. When does that work need to be approved? When possible, collaborate in a digital tool that gives everyone visibility into the process.

It doesn’t take specialized tools to improve the project management workflow. It requires stakeholders working through a centralized point of contact, in a centralized environment, so everyone stays in the loop. Set up protocols, communicate expectations, and stay consistent. Then watch things move along more smoothly.

There Is No “I” in “Personal”

You’ve heard the phrase, “There is no ‘I’ in team.” So it is with print and digital personalization. By itself, data is just that—data. To be truly personal, it takes a collective effort to capture the customer’s attention and create relevant communications that move the needle. Let’s look at some of the most common marketing elements that marketers combine with personalization to maximize response rates.

1. Audience selection.
Great results start with having a highly targeted audience that is more likely than average to respond to your offer. A home improvement contractor might target new movers. A boutique salon might target female residents within a specific ZIP Code. Layering on personalized information, such as name and offers based on household income, are a bonus.

2. Stand-out design.
Personalized messaging is powerful, but only if people read it. You have to draw recipients’ attention in the first place. To do this, marketers often use unusual design elements, such as oversized postcards, clear envelopes, or lumpy mail, to capture recipients’ attention long enough for the personalized message to get seen.

3. Remind them. With even the best offer, people need to be reminded to respond now and then. You can improve response rates by sending follow-up postcards or emails (or both). Remove recipients’ names from the follow-up list once they respond. Something as simple as a reminder card or email can boost response rates significantly.

4. Mix up your channels. Effective campaigns use multiple channels to reinforce the message. Pair postcards with email and social media mentions, then use great in-store signage as the coup de gras.

5. High-value incentive. This technique is common in lead generation or information gathering campaigns. To motivate recipients to respond to an initial call to action, you might offer a gift or monetary incentive, such as a restaurant gift card or entry into a sweepstakes.

Personalization is a powerful tool, but it’s not a magic wand. Like all marketing elements, it works best when it is part of a collective effort.

Getting Content Marketing Right

We hear a lot of about content marketing these days. Why is it so important? Whether it’s in print, email, or mobile, content marketing builds customer trust, engagement, and loyalty, which are the foundations of long-term revenues and growth. Here are five steps to getting it right.

1. Have a brand message.

Boil your brand messaging down into a simple statement that reflects both your product and your value proposition. Some well-known examples are McDonald’s “I’m lovin’ it” and Nike’s “Just do it.” Having an over-arching brand message helps you maintain consistency and focus in your broader print and digital marketing efforts.

2. Use metrics to gauge results.

How you incorporate content marketing into an overall marketing strategy will depend on what you want to achieve. Use metrics to further specific marketing goals, including:

• Sales volume
• Market share
• Number of leads
• Cost per lead
• Length of sales cycle

Put numbers to these goals and time frames to achieve them.

3. Speak your audience’s language.

You will speak differently to moms raising children than you will to twenty-somethings just starting their first job. Have a detailed knowledge of who your audience is and what makes them tick. Craft your images and messaging to each segment.

4. Keep branding consistent.

All of your content should reflect consistent branding. Place someone in charge of managing your content strategy and set up guidelines for elements such as logos, brand colors, images, and fonts, styles, and sizes of text. Remember that all of your brand elements must work across multiple channels, including print, email, and mobile.

5. Target the stage of the sales funnel.

Not only can your customers be segmented into different target groups, but they are also at different stages along their buying journeys. For example, someone who needs your product but isn’t yet aware of your brand isn’t ready to skip right to product selection and pricing. Know where customers are along the journey and craft the right message to hit them at the right time.

Sound complicated? It doesn’t have to be, and you don’t need to go it alone. Give us

What Drives Color Trends?

What influences the graphic designers who are designing your marketing collateral, direct mail, packaging, and displays? According to Jack Bredenfoerder, director of BV Color Strategy, five factors are impacting the use of color in any design project:

1. How the eye sees color.

This refers to the interaction of the object, the light source, and the observer. The same color appears different to the eye based on lighting conditions. Depending on how and where color is used, color choices will differ.

2. The culture around us.

Design trends are influenced by the culture around us, including colors of state, colors of religion, color conventions, and colors of groups (sports teams, corporations, organizations, schools).

3. Psychology of color.

Not everyone agrees on the emotions or meaning that colors evoke, but there is little disagreement that certain colors inspire certain emotions. Use color to do more than look pretty. Use it to influence emotion.

4. Color fads, trends, and cycles.

There will always be color fads, trends, and cycles. To anticipate emerging trends, Bredenfoerder suggests watching the New York runways and the Hollywood red carpet, since fashion designers are often harbingers of the trends that reach the world of print and digital design.

5. Color influence and forecasting.

Color forecasting is an active, ongoing creative process that incorporates more substantial influences such as politics, medicine, and culture. Today, the yearning for simpler things of life can be seen in color trends that relate to playfulness, nature, and joy.

The takeaway? Color is a powerful tool, but just like fonts and design style, they are always shifting. Don’t get stuck in the past.

Print and Digital: Complements, but Not Interchangeable

In the marketing world, we regularly hear about print and digital marketing being used together. Digital and print media reinforce one another, so rather than seeing the two as competitors, marketers are encouraged to integrate them. However, integration doesn’t mean that the two channels are interchangeable, as one new survey shows. Consumers still want a choice.

A survey commissioned by Two Sides North America reveals that U.S. consumers are unhappy with corporate initiatives forcing them into digital-only communication and eliminating paper-based options. Many of the questions related to bills and statements, but the results apply to marketing communications, too.

Consumers want to be able to choose whether to receive paper bills and statements, and they don’t want to have to pay extra to do it. For example, 79% of respondents want the option to continue receiving printed information, and 77% would be unhappy if they were asked to pay for it. More than three-quarters (79%) felt that paper options were easier to read compared to screens.

There is also suspicion about the motives of companies forcing their customers to go paperless. Overwhelmingly (85%), consumers agreed that cost savings is the main reason companies use claims such as “Go Paperless—Go Green” or “Go Paperless—Save Trees.” More than half (57%) question the truthfulness of such claims.

So use digital and print-based communications wisely. Use email when you need to touch base quickly, such as sending company news, alerting customers to a flash sale, or offering reminders. Use print where digital communications are not as strong, such as for . . .

• In-depth communications.
• Contacts that contain highly personal information.
• Mailings that involve brand or personal trust.

Studies also show that information is easier for people to understand and recall in print, so use print for “weightier” topics and messages that require attention to detail. If you want to move customers to digital communication, ask first. Don’t make the decision for them.

Is Your Print Project Really Finished?

Any marketer has access to high-quality printing, but far fewer take the time to invest in high-quality coating. For those that do, the extra time can make the difference between buyers seeing your project as “a nice piece” and a really great, memorable one. Let’s look at three reasons you might want to add a coating before your project goes “live” into the hands of your target audience.

1. Protection. Sometimes a project needs that extra level of protection to keep it looking its best. Printed pieces can be exposed to a wide variety of harsh environmental conditions, including mailing equipment, high levels of moisture and dirt, high-traffic conditions (such as retail signage and displays), and constant handling. Coating provides an important level of protection that keeps the piece looking its best. If you need full waterproof properties, you may want to consider a laminate.

2. Gloss. Shine adds sparkle and impact. It instantly conveys the impression of value and quality. When you print or mail a piece with a high-gloss coating, you are telling recipients, “You matter!” UV coating offers the hardest coated surface and the highest level of brilliance and sheen.

3. Special effects. The number of options for specialty coatings is exploding. Spot varnish, for example, highlights specific areas of the printed piece for visual interest and impact. (Think lips popping out on a lipstick ad.) Soft touch creates a printed piece with a velvety finish. It produces a wonderful tactile feel, with the added benefit of offering fingerprint resistance, as well. Some specialty varnishes can be enhanced with effects such as glitter, tint, and scents. If you want to use a laminate, you can even get holographic effects.

Different finishes have different benefits and drawbacks. They also have different ranges of cost. Talk to us about the differences between coating types and ask to see samples. Then use coatings to make your next project shine.

Nurtured Prospects Are Higher-Value Prospects

Lead nurturing is the process of drawing prospects into the sales funnel, then “dripping” relevant information to them via print, email, or other channels to keep them moving through the funnel until they make a purchase.

Lead nurturing is a powerful tool, but it is a process unfamiliar to many marketers. According to Forrester Research, companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost. It’s worth learning!

Let’s look at five types of lead nurturing campaigns and how they can boost your bottom line.

1. Product-focused campaigns
Once someone “raises their hand” to show an interest in your products, your job has only begun. Now you can begin feeding them content such as case studies, white papers, and data sheets. Give them enough information, and the right information at the right stage of their buyer journeys, to make a purchase decision.

2. Overcoming objections
Part of a customer’s journey is asking questions, so feed them information that anticipates those questions and answers their objections. This might include technical papers, customer testimonials, or analysis from industry experts. A comparison/contrast with competitive products might be in order.

3. Lead re-engagement campaigns
At some point, prospects can become disengaged from the process. Maybe they were wooed away by a competitor. Maybe they handed the project off to someone else. Or maybe they just got busy. Blog posts, case studies, and customer testimonials are great ways to renew their interest.

4. Promotional/closing campaigns
After a prospect has been exposed to escalating “drips” of relevant content, it is time to close the deal. Send a promotional offer or specific, personalized call to action to get them to pull the trigger.

5. “Top of mind” campaigns
Even once someone becomes a customer, don’t stop pursuing them. Keep that relationship going with a welcome letter, postcard, or information kit. Make new customers feel valued and appreciated, then stay top of mind with educational newsletters, tips and tricks postcards, and regular “drip” emails to keep them engaged until they are ready to make another purchase.

Need help planning a lead nurturing campaign? Give us a call!

3 Tips for Creating a Visual Brand

Top brands have key written marketing strategies, but they have visual strategies too. Think about some of today’s most iconic brands—Nike, McDonald’s, Disney. Just one glance and the entire brand—its core messages and key products—rush into your mind. Do you have a visual brand? If not, how can you create one?

1. Be consistent with brand colors.
There’s a reason top brands place such importance on their brand colors. Think Tide Orange and Coca-Cola Red. Not only are these brand colors used for products and logos, but they infuse every aspect of these companies’ marketing, both digital and print.
Even if you don’t have an official brand color, identify colors that are consistent with your company message and image. Use them consistently throughout your materials. Color can be a consistent presence in all of your marketing materials that triggers visual memory.

2. Tell your story in pictures.
What’s your brand story? How can images of your products tell that story? For example, from a branding perspective, Harley-Davidson doesn’t sell motorcycles. It sells independence and freedom. Visuals of the open road are as important as the motorcycle itself. Likewise, Lexus doesn’t sell cars. It sells prestige. Its advertising shows cars driven by men in expensive suits or by women dripping with luxury.
What feelings do your print materials need to evoke? Are your products designed to give people financial freedom, make them better moms, or boost their social standing? If so, what images will reinforce those messages?

3. Go professional.
Stock imagery works in a pinch, but it tells a general story, not your story. Try hiring a professional photographer and using pictures of your storefront or corporate offices, your employees, and your products in use (rather than just house shots). Build a visual identity based on real people, places, and things associated with your company.

Visual branding is a powerful tool — use it!

5 Tips for Keeping Customers Coming Back

You want to keep your most profitable customers, right? Right! According to research by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company, increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. You can double your profitability just by keeping the customers you already have. So how do you do that? Here are five tips for keeping your customers coming back.

1. Go holistic. The more you know your customers, the easier it is to know what to do to keep them. Start by tying together all the data you have on each customer to get one holistic view. For example, John W. Smith in your mailing database may also be Johnny Smith Jr. in your email list and J.W. Smith on Facebook. Most customers need help tying these databases together. If so, contact us, and we can help.

2. Make it easy. Reduce barriers to communicating with you. Give people more options, whether it’s via chat box or Facebook Messenger. Make it easier to buy and make repeat purchases. Something as simple as pre-filling response cards and subscription forms can improve the customer experience.

3. Treat them like real people. Customers don’t like feeling like a number. Take what you know about them and personalize text and images, whether in print or email. Invest in expanding your database to include new variables that will increase relevance.

4. Listen. Are you only pushing information out and not listening to feedback? Respond quickly and appropriately to comments sent to you through email, your company blog, and even social media.

5. Take the long view. Forget the gimmicks and quick fixes. Prizes, sweepstakes, and “experiential events” can get results, but they are short lived. As one strategist has put it, “Get to the trenches, examine how your customers live and use your products, and then design a complete meaningful solution for them across all touchpoints.”

There are no quick fixes for customer loyalty. It requires developing a strategy, making a commitment, and investing in an ongoing relationship with your customers that includes listening, as well as talking.

Need help? Give us a call!

Think Great Color Is Easy? Think Again

Think great color is something everyone can do? Think again. Getting accurate, high-quality color takes effort. Here is a peek behind the curtain at what it takes to give you the best color day after day, and job after job, even when projects are months apart.

1. Define independent color space.

Your computer monitors operate in the RGB color space. Our presses operate in CMYK. The two spaces work very differently, and there is a delicate and complex conversion process that must take place between them. Adding to the challenge is that RGB and CMYK are device-dependent. This means that the same colors look different on different devices.

How do we get the two in sync? First we define color by metrics unrelated to the devices themselves — how color looks to the eye. Take the color of a red apple. On your computer monitor, “apple red” is defined by a set of numbers called CIE L*a*b, which is an objective, device-independent measurement what the eye sees. That CIE L*a*b value corresponds to an ICC color profile, which is an objective measurement of how that monitor “sees” and outputs color.

2. Translate to “press language.”

Now that we have an ICC profile that translates color accurately from the eye to the monitor, we need to be able to reproduce that color on press. Every press is unique, so the ICC color profile for the RGB monitor is translated into an ICC profile for the CYMK press.

3. Workflow steps to make it happen.

Next is to get that color onto paper. This starts with making choices at the RIP (the equipment that processes the job before it is sent to the press) to ensure that the settings match the ones in the software used by your designer. It also requires regular calibration of our presses to make sure that the color is not only accurate but repeatable.

Getting great color is not a magic trick. It requires a lot of craft, science, and hard work. That’s why you don't want to trust your color to just anyone. We hope you continue to trust us with your most color-critical jobs.

Adapted from EFI’s webinar: “World of Fiery: 3 Key Steps to Get the Right Color the First Try.” You can view a video presentation on this topic at http://tinyurl.com/pfw76bu.

Why Invest in Customer Loyalty? 3 Reasons

What’s the value of loyal customers? According to a study by Yotpo, loyal customers offer a brand three key benefits:

• They tell friends and family about the brand (60%)
• They are willing to join the brand’s loyalty or VIP program (52.3%)
• They spend more on a brand’s product even if there are cheaper options elsewhere (39.4%)

Not only this, but HubSpot has found that existing customers spend 67% more than new customers.

Keep your customers, make more money. It’s that simple. Optimove, reporting on the Yotpo study, put it this way: “The power of customer loyalty is so vital, its effects could mean the difference between your business either thriving, just about surviving, or breaking down completely.”

Optimove went on to suggest three ways you can show your appreciation and keep those customers around.

1. Let them know that you reward loyalty.

Regardless how you reward loyalty, it’s critical to let your customers know that you do. Don’t make them wait to find out. Promote your loyalty program in your direct mail pieces. Create a “loyalty” link on your website. In your print and email newsletters, talk about real people who have saved money and earned free stuff.

2. Create and promote multi-level incentives.

Tier your rewards so that the most loyal customers get the most benefits. The more loyal they are, the more they save, the more they earn, and the more insider benefits they get. Also consider creating a sense of competition. “Enable your customers to compare their scores, points and/or rankings with other customers,” says Optimove.

3. Re-engage disconnected customers.

Don’t assume that lost customers are gone forever. There can be many reasons they have stopped buying, many of which may have nothing to do with them falling out of love with your products. Sometimes, all it takes is a nudge and an incentive to get them to come back.

You’ve worked hard to gain your customers, and they are worth keeping. Make the investment in your customers and they will invest in you.

Are You Overlooking Opportunities for Color?

Color is a critical element of any marketing program. In fact, a new study from Go Inspire Group found that, increased design vibrancy produced an overall revenue increase of 20%.[1] But color isn’t just for images. With a little creativity, you can find great new ways to grab attention and draw your customers’ eyes to places in your printed materials that you want them to look. Here are five places to get started.

1. Eye-popping envelopes. Unless you are sending a postcard, the outside of the envelope is the first thing people see. If your envelope is a bright, vibrant color in a sea of white envelopes, it will be the first one people reach for.

2. Make the offer stand out. Place text in brightly colored call-out boxes or use colored or highlighted text inside the body copy. Use color to say what it does best, “Look at me!”

3. Highlight the call to action. Place your call to action (CTA) in a strategic location and use color to draw your reader’s eye. Place the CTA in a starburst or use an oversized font in a bright “can’t miss me” color.

4. Add a teaser. By using teaser copy on the outside of the envelope, your message gets seen before readers even open the flap. Think “10 days to save!” or “Save 25% today!” You can add teasers to the white space around the body copy of the inside letter, too.

5. Add a Postscript. Studies show that the postscript of a letter is what most people read first. Seize the opportunity by using colored text to reinforce the key elements of your message. Be sure to include the offer and the CTA. People often read postscripts when they don’t read anything else, so grab even more attention by making it in color.

Vibrant color is a powerful tool. Are you leaving opportunities on the table?

[1]https://www.crmxchange.com/Press_Releases/Go_Inspire_Group_study_reveals_improved_net_revenue_from_variable_printing_of_targeted_direct_mail.aspx

How to Meet Your Deadlines Every Time

There are a lot of moving parts to any marketing campaign. The printing and mailing (or, if you are incorporating digital channels, text or email blasts) is only the last link in the chain. To ensure that the final deadline is met, you have to work backwards to ensure that each individual component is on schedule.

How do you stay on track? At the start of every project, ask yourself the following questions:

1. What is the final deadline you are trying to meet?
2. Who is writing the copy and how long will it take?
3. Are you using stock images or creating the artwork yourself? Who is making those decisions and how long will that take?
4. Who will be doing the design and layout? What is the time budget for that?
5. How long will it take to print, finish, and mail the piece?
6. How many approvals do you need? How much additional time to you need to add for those?

The first answer provides your end date. Once you have that, you can work backwards to determine your start date. Pad each time estimate by a factor of 1.5 to 3 times depending on your confidence in the numbers.

Once the project is complete, look back at how well you stuck to the timeline. Did you stay on schedule? If not, where did you get bogged down? What needs to be adjusted to create a more accurate time estimate next time?

Don’t beat yourself up for making mistakes. Along the way, you learned something, such as when your creative staff says, “It takes us one day to turn around the proof of concept,” they meant two days, or that you forgot to take into account transportation time when you made your project plan.

Staying on schedule takes practice . . . and smart planning. If you’re new to the process, don’t go it alone. We have tons of experience in project planning. Just ask!

5 Variables in Your Personalized Print Success

As marketers, we know that personalizing your print and email communications works. But how well? Metrics from personalized campaigns range from single digits to nearly 100%. It’s always tempting to compare your campaigns to others, especially those in published articles or case studies. However, you can’t necessarily tell the success or profitability of a campaign by the top-line numbers alone. The most important metric is the overall return on investment (ROI).

Why is that? Let’s look at five variables associated with response rates and how they can impact results.

1. Who’s your audience? If you send your mail piece to everyone on your list, you will receive a lower response rate than if you send to your best customers or a carefully selected demographic sub-set.

2. What’s your goal? Are you trying to get someone to sign up for a free newsletter or buy a $50,000 car? Some offers naturally get higher response rates than others.

3. What is the incentive? For its high-value products, one marketer regularly generates 21% to 75% response rates based on offering high-value rewards like remote control cars or sets of personalized golf clubs. But not all incentives will generate the same results.

4. Cost of the product? You will get more responses to offers for products under $50 than for high-value products and services like family vacations and financial services.

5. Are you regional or national? Sometimes regional marketers have a better chance at grabbing recipients’ attention just because they have a local connection. Known brands versus unknown brands makes a difference, as well.

So don’t compare yourself to others. Many variables can affect response rates. Your metrics will be unique to you, and in the end, your ROI is the only number that counts!

Color Makes an Envelope Shout “Open Me!”

As human beings, we are naturally drawn to color. When most mailings are in black-and-white, doing something as simple as adding color to the outside of your envelopes can make your envelope scream, “Open me!”

An early mail openability study conducted by NFO/Pitney Bowes found that mail recipients were more likely to open an envelope if it contained a teaser, especially a teaser printed in red. The value of color was reinforced by a later Leflein Associates study, which found that 69% of people are more likely to open a mail piece with color text and graphics on the front than they are when the envelope is plain.

Because adding color makes it more likely that recipients will open the envelope, making this investment for your next campaign can significantly boost your ROI.

Here are six places you can add color to your envelopes if you’re not already doing so:

• Add your company logo
• Use four-color marketing images
• Test bright banners and borders
• Play with fun, colorful backgrounds
• Add colorful indicia
• Test outlines of the state in which they live
• Use color everywhere — try a colored envelope itself!

When was the last time you added color to the outside of your envelopes? If the answer is not in a long time (or never), what are you waiting for? Let us help!

https://www.thefreelibrary.com/Pitney%20Bowes/NFO%20Study%20Reveals%20Types%20of%20Mail%20That%20Consumers%20Will%20Open.-a053025033
https://www.macpapers.com/usps/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/USPS-Infographic-final.pdf

Print + Email: The Combination That Delivers

There are lots of things that are better together. Abbott and Costello. Peanut butter and jelly. Converse and high socks. In the world of marketing, it’s print and email. Print is a powerful channel all on its own. Why would adding email to the mix make such a difference?
Let’s look at three reasons.

• It’s a sign of engagement. Not that providing the email address, in itself, makes the customer more engaged. It’s because these customers are more engaged that they are more likely to provide this information. Willingness to give an email address can be an indicator of engagement—and that’s really useful to know.

• Email providers are self-selecting themselves as more likely to buy. By providing their email addresses, customers are telling you that they want to hear from you. This makes them more open to your messaging and, therefore, more likely to make a purchase.

• Customers who provide their email addresses are more open to additional marketing “touches.” More touches means more results.
We see this two-step process approach generating results every day. By combining personalized printing with email and an online registration process, one association, for example, was able to triple the attendance at its annual summer conference. In another example, a software manufacturer sent a follow-up email to non-responders to a print campaign, personalized using the same rules as the print mailer, and sales of its targeted products jumped 81%.

Of course, this “one-two punch” is not the only element of a successful direct mail campaign. Still, it is a key aspect. It’s no wonder that direct mail with email follow-up has become almost the de facto standard in multichannel marketing today.

Why not talk to us about expanding your next campaign to include email?

Are Your Marketing Channels Team Players?

Want better marketing results? Think about your marketing channels as members of a sports team. Individually, whether direct mail, digital, or wide-format, each channel may pack a powerful punch, yet none of them is at its most effective when working alone. For the best results, marketing channels need to work together.

Want to get the most out of your multichannel marketing? Here is a basic game plan:

1. Everyone wear team gear.

Each channel may be different, but they’re all on the same team—and they should look like it. You aren’t going to be able to maintain 100% color consistency across digital and print channels (although you can get close). However, you can ensure consistency in other areas, such as images, color schemes, and messaging.

2. Put the right players in the right positions.

Sports teams have different positions by for a reason. Sure, an NFL linebacker can run the ball, but if you want the most effective team, the linebacker needs to do what he does best — block. Likewise, an NFL running back can play defense if necessary, but he’s best in the role of catching a pass and running it down the field. So it is in marketing! Each channel has its strengths. Know these strengths and place each one in the overall marketing line-up where the entire team will get the most significant benefit.

3. Play to the audience.

New England fans aren’t going to respond to the Dallas Cowboys the same way they do the New England Patriots. Likewise, not every demographic is going to respond the same way to every channel. You’re not going to engage many retirees with text marketing, for example. Plus, the mix is always changing. It used to be that only teenagers and college students used Facebook. Now they’ve moved to SnapChat, and Facebook is used by older demographics, as well as businesses and organizations.

Want your multichannel marketing team to produce a Super-Bowl-style win? Identify your marketing objectives, maintain brand consistency, and ensure that each channel is in the right position to maximize its effectiveness for the team.

Need help? Let’s chat!

3 Secret Benefits to Print Over Digital

In a world infatuated with digital, print marketers have a secret in their pockets—print. Here are three reasons why print still packs a wallop, even in a digital world.

1. Digital channels aren’t as inexpensive as you’d think.

Just because there isn’t a print and mail cost doesn’t mean that digital channels are less expensive than print. Digital channels have constant churn in addresses and profiles, for example, so lists require constant management and updating. Email also has significant costs associated with opt-in, opt-out, and other list management that print doesn’t.

2. Print gets read when email doesn’t.

Your highly targeted, perfectly timed email can get buried under dozens or hundred of others before the recipient even knows it’s there. By contrast, people retrieve and sort their mail every day.

3. Print drives online behavior.

One of the primary reasons people visit your website is because of something they’ve seen or received in print. Study after study shows that print and online channels work in a symbiotic relationship.

Convinced? Great! Here are three tips for getting most out of your efforts:

• Create target segments. Break your customers down into categories that allow you to segment and target your message. You may segment by age, geographic region, product category, or whatever works for you.

• Personalize the discussion. People buy from people, not from companies. Take the time to address each recipient by name. If possible, use data that allows you to speak to their individual needs.

• Use multiple channels. Instead of focusing on one channel or another, develop integrated, multichannel campaigns in which direct mail, email, and mobile marketing work together. Let each channel reinforce what’s best in the others.

Now you have the secret. Let’s put it to work together!

5 Tips for Waking up Tired Mail

Is your marketing getting tired? Is your target audience tuning out your mailings because you’re sending the same campaign over and over? Maybe it’s time to mix things up. Here are five ideas to get people noticing your direct mailings again.

1. Get creative with envelopes.

Envelopes can be a lot of fun. They come in a variety of sizes, colors, shapes, and formats. Instead of sending the same old white envelope, consider using one in a bright, fun color.

2. Add a teaser.

Did you know we can print personalized messages on the outside of your envelopes, too? These are called teasers. “Special Offer Just for Bob Johnson!” or “Suzie, you won’t believe what’s inside!”

3. Think beyond the envelope.

Think beyond the traditional envelope. Try self-mailers, postcards, or faux Express Mail or Air Mail designs on occasion.

4. Change your offer.

Your offers can get tired, too. So mix it up. If you’ve been offering a discount, try a free trial instead. If you’ve been doing the hard sell, try a softer approach, such as allowing people to ask for more information first.

5. Add a time limit.

Time limits are powerful motivators. Use a personalized message on the outside of the envelope (“Ben, offer expires in 5 days!”) or create a piece of art that looks like a rubber-stamped time limit across the top. Time limits also give you an excuse to send a follow-up. “Robert, your offer is set to expire. Respond now!”

Every direct mail campaign needs a refresh now and then. Maybe it’s time to try something new.

Need ideas? Let’s brainstorm together!

Survey: Marketing Budgets Soar!

Every year, Target Marketing surveys its readership to identify trends for the upcoming marketing year. This year, its “2019 Marketing Budget Survey” found that a whopping 10x more marketing budgets are increasing for 2019 than decreasing.  Great news! That’s the kind of commitment that gets results. 

Here’s how the data on respondents’ budgets broke out: 

•    60% increasing
•    31% staying the same
•    6% decreasing
•    3% not sure

As part of its survey, Target Marketing also identified three top marketing trends that all marketers, whether digital or traditional (or both), need to know. 

1. More money is going to tech and data.
 
Marketers’ highest spend is going for media and other outreach (28%) and personnel (20%). That’s to be expected, but this year, they take up less than half of marketers’ budgets overall. Technology, consumer data/data management, and metrics/performance measurement combined to account for 42% of spending overall. Data is the foundation of good marketing, and marketers’ budgets are reflecting that. 

2. Marketing is moving from push to pull. 

Channels that use pull marketing (social media, online video, content marketing) are growing faster than those that push (email). Social media advertising (59%), online video (54%), and content marketing (53%) are the fastest growing media channels. As you integrate digital media into your marketing efforts, make sure you are incorporating channels that pull, as well as push. 

3. Marketers still demand conversions.  

When it comes to grading performance, conversion metrics win the most favor for budgeting. As you justify your 2019 marketing budget to the higher-ups, focus on metrics that reflect conversions. Select metrics such as sales, lead generation, and sign-ups that prove that you are getting those conversions, however you define them. 

Next year is going to be an exciting year for marketers, full of change and opportunity. How are you allocating your budget?
 

Why Some Personalized Mailings Just Work Better

When it comes to increasing response and conversion rates, personalized communications are a powerful tool. However, don’t think that all personalization is equal. It isn’t. To get great results, you must use the right variables with the right audience in the right way.

Response rates for personalized mailings can vary widely. One study found response rates ranging from 6% to 75%, with an average of 21%. These are some eye-catching numbers, but why is the range so wide? To understand the variation and set realistic expectations for your own campaigns, it’s helpful to ask specific questions.

• What type of campaign was it? Customer acquisition? Customer retention?
• What kind of list did you use? Highly targeted, moderately targeted, or undifferentiated lists will yield different results.
• Did recipients have a previous relationship with your company? Or are you using a prospect list?
• What is the value of the product? Are you marketing a webinar or selling a Tesla?
• Did per-order value go up with personalization, and if so, by how much? A “low” response rate combined with a high per-order value will often net you better ROI than a high response rate with low per-order value.
• How are you measuring success? Response rates? Conversion rates? Cost per lead? Average sale? Each measurement tells a different story.

The answers to such questions can have a dramatic impact on understanding ROI. So before setting your expectations for your next personalized mailing, talk to us about your goals, expectations, and the data you are working with. Setting realistic expectations is a critical component to making your 1:1 print program a success.

Every Door Direct Mail: Your Secret Weapon

If you run a local business or a larger regional or national organization that relies on sales and support from local neighborhoods, the United States Postal Service’s Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) might be just what you need to take your marketing to the next level. If you haven’t tried EDDM, you could be missing a tremendous asset in your mix.

EDDM is perfect for the following:

• Increasing awareness.
• Boosting traffic at retail locations.
• Promoting special offers or events.
• Delivering coupons.
• Driving new customer acquisition.

If you aren’t familiar with EDDM, it just might be the most cost-effective way to reach local customers using direct mail. It’s simple and does not require mailing permits, paperwork, or drop-offs at the Post Office.

To use EDDM, go to the USPS’s EDDM mapping tool, enter the desired ZIP Code(s), and select the carrier routes you want to mail to. If you’re going to mail to specific demographic audiences, such as by age, income, or household size, you can identify the best ZIP Codes to reach them.

So what are some things you need to know to take the most advantage of the program?

1. EDDM addresses to LOCAL POSTAL CUSTOMER, so you won’t be able to personalize by name. Instead, design a great mailer to grab attention and gather more detailed customer data on the back end.

2. Make sure that EDDM is a good fit for your marketing goals. Your offer is not going to be relevant to every household in your chosen ZIP Code(s), so make sure the products or services you are selling are relevant to enough of your audience for the promotion to make sense.

3. Invest in the front end. Because you cannot personalize with EDDM, you’ll need to be creative. Use high-quality images. Write a compelling call to action. Tell a powerful story.

Every Door Direct Mail is an excellent tool for the right campaigns. Give us a call to see what it can do for you!

Securing Your Customers’ Loyalty

Your customers are a hot commodity. Everybody wants them. So how do you keep them loyal to you? Make your relationship so great that they don’t want to go anywhere else.

1. Market in the age of “me.”

Know your customers well enough to give them a personalized experience. This goes beyond targeting with basic demographics like gender, age, and household income. Look at the channels your customers respond to, when they make purchases, and what they buy. Acting on this data helps your customers see that you know and care about them. It helps with cross-sells and upsells, too!

2. Coupons galore!

Consumers have a love affair with coupons, including mobile. According to Juniper Research, mobile coupons are 10x more likely to be used than printed coupons.

3. Don’t be channel agnostic.

Know which channels your customers are most likely to respond to, then use them. If a customer requires two emails to respond but responds the first time to direct mail, get them on the “mail first” list. If someone else is more likely to respond to an email than a printed newsletter, get them on the “email first” list. Keep your branding, message, and imaging consistent regardless of channel.

4. Ask their opinion.

Use response cards, personalized URLs, and other survey mechanisms to get your customers’ opinion on products, services, and potential business changes. When one specialty retailer wanted to give its location a facelift, it used a targeted direct mail piece with personalized URLs to ask its customers about products and services they wanted but the company didn’t offer. It got an earful! The retailer incorporated the most popular suggestions, and its sales soared.

5. Remember to say “thank you.”

Everyone likes to be appreciated. Send a personalized “thank you” letter, postcard, or other mailer once in a while. Attach a no-strings coupon or discount just to engender their goodwill . . . and you will.

Gaining customer loyalty doesn’t have to be rocket science. You just have to put in the effort.

Got Relationship? It’s the Key to Nonprofit Fundraising

Pop quiz: What is the factor most likely to impact a person’s willingness to donate to a nonprofit organization? According to a survey by YouGov, it’s relationship. Key to this relationship is helping donors feel great about their donations and see how their giving is making a difference.

How do you deepen your donors’ relationships with you? Get to know them. Use surveys, third-party data sources, pop-up web forms, and other methods to gather information about your donors that you may not already have. This information can be used to tailor your communications in ways that are most effective.

Say you are providing services to underprivileged children around the world. If your survey reveals that potential donors are in the medical field, for example, you might emphasize the value of their donations to fight disease or provide clean water. If, on the other hand, donors are teachers, you might highlight the ability to give the children good educations. Or you could provide the same messaging to both groups, but use different imagery.

Not everyone wants to take the time out of their day to fill out a survey, so if you are going to ask people to do so, give them something of value in return. “Value” doesn’t have to mean a monetary incentive, such as a gift card or entrance into a drawing. It can be something as simple as exclusive insight into a project you are funding ("Respond to our survey and receive a link to an exclusive behind-the-scenes video of our volunteers at work").

Donors give because it makes them feel good. The response incentive needs to reflect that motivation, and it will be different for every organization.

Need help creating a donor survey to further the mission of your organization? Give us a call!

A multi-channel marketing strategy is more than simply launching some marketing initiatives on multiple platforms. Instead, a true multi-channel approach creates a unified experience across more than one channel so you can reach your target audience wherever they may be interacting with you at the moment.

This approach is effective as today's consumers have a lot of technology at their fingertips and want to engage with companies in a variety of ways, but without feeling like they are jumping around while doing so. For example, a potential customer may come across your Facebook feed and click a link to read a post on your blog. From there, they may venture into your business to learn more.

That customer wants to feel like they've accessed a single touch point--your company--even though it was really three unique points. Here are a few ways to adopt a multi-channel strategy into your mix.

Before You Get Started

Before you venture into a multi-channel strategy, there are a few important ducks to get in a row. The first is to have a consistent look and feel across all your channels, so make sure your social media feeds, website, and printed materials all have the same branding elements to create a uniform experience.

Next, take the time to create a thorough profile of your target audiences. Without a deep understanding of their needs along with plenty of details about their online and offline habits, you won't be able to leverage the strengths of different channels in a way that will make your audience respond. In other words, you can't give people what they want if you don't know what that is.

Then, make sure you have specific, measurable goals for your strategies so you'll know whether your initiatives are effective or not. That way, you can double down on what's working and take a second look at anything that's not working so you're not wasting resources.

3 Ways to Approach Multi-Channel Marketing

Any combination of marketing channels is possible when creating a multi-channel marketing strategy. Here are three of them to give you a jumping-off point when planning yours.

1. PPC Ad Extensions. Pay-per-click ad extensions from Google give you several options for bringing search traffic to other channels once your ads are seen, especially for mobile users. One option advertisers are given include a "view offer" link that directs clicks to a landing page and allows users to print or save offers for use in-store.

There are lots of other options for ad extensions, too. Some let you provide extra details about your products and services, show specific call-to-action buttons, display store locations, clickable phone numbers that dial the call, and buttons for mobile app downloads.

Each of these can be used to capture the attention of people who are using Google to solve problems and search for solutions, and bring them into the fold of your other channels.

2. Event Warmups. Let's say there's a big tradeshow or conference coming up for your industry and you're deep into the planning stages for the event. Your tradeshow booth and marketing materials are designed and with the printer for production. Your customized swag is on its way. Your collateral packages are ready and you've had extra business cards printed with a custom URL to welcome new prospects you've met at the event.

Along with these preparations, give your audience a bit of a brand warmup in the days or weeks leading up to the event. This will provide them with an opportunity to see your name a few times and have an idea of what you're about rather than encountering you for the first time at the event. For example, a targeted social media ad campaign can help boost your name recognition while also drawing in potential event attendees.

3. Paper Outreach. There are lots of ways to build your digital audience, but an often overlooked avenue is offline campaigns. A direct mail campaign that targets less-frequent digital users can be a great way to bring new people into your online space--especially if you've been unable to reach them with digital efforts due to their infrequent connection to the web.

Consider an offer sent via U.S. mail that invites people to "check in on Facebook" the next time they are in a store to receive a discount. Or a printed insert that can be handed to customers at the checkout that directs them to your website for more offers. You can keep these outreach efforts simple, or try something fun like creating a photo booth in your store with props and signage. Customers can snap a pic and upload it to social media to share with their friends.

When you encourage customers to bring their in-store experiences online, not only will those customers then be part of your digital network, but your brand will be exposed to all of their connections as well.

Always Consider Customers

The key to making cross-channel promotions work is to focus on what your customers will respond to. There may not be much action from a photo booth at the tax accountant's office, but those clients are very likely to be interested in your blog series on how to be smart about tax-advantaged savings accounts. When you put your customer's needs first and keep your branding and messaging consistent across all your assets, your audience will enjoy a seamless trip across channels and you'll meet your marketing goals.

Today's consumers are making purchase decisions everywhere: on their mobile devices, in stores, looking at menus in a restaurant, flipping through magazines in a waiting room. To reach your target audience successfully, you have to be in all the right places at the right times, and a multi-channel marketing plan will get you there.

What is a Multi-Channel Marketing Plan?

In a nutshell, a multi-channel plan is a single strategy that's been launched across multiple platforms, or channels. For example, an approach that includes search engine marketing, website lead generation, and in-store promotions for those online signups would be a multi-channel effort.

The benefits of this approach revolve around making your customers happy. By reaching out to them on their preferred channel, and having the ability to have multiple touchpoints, you'll keep people engaged and your brand awareness high. That way, when it's time to make a purchase, you're more likely to be the choice.

Multi-Channel Essentials

Simply deploying a message on a few different channels isn't quite what a multi-channel strategy is all about. Instead, you want to give your audience a feeling of continuity across channels so they recognize you and feel comfortable no matter where the interaction is taking place.
One of the most essential parts of a multi-channel strategy is consistency. Your branding and messaging must be steady and dependable to create a seamless experience for your current and potential customers.

It's also essential to have a deep understanding of your audience so you know where to reach them, and what messaging is likely to cut through the noise. Take the time to build detailed profiles of your ideal customers, including some insight into their daily lives such as hobbies, family, etc. The more detailed, the better!

Lastly, no strategy will be effective without knowing precisely what you're trying to achieve. Each strategy should have goals that are specific, measurable, relevant, and based on a specified time frame.

Creating a Multi-Channel Strategy

Ultimately, every strategy will be a bit different as every business has its own target audience with its own unique needs. For example, we couldn't recommend for every business to loop Pinterest into their strategy as some industries simply will not do well on that channel. However, just about every industry can benefit from a little social media exposure.

When choosing your channels, think in terms of each channel complementing the other. You want them to work together to achieve your goals rather than operating independently. Here are three common channels to consider:

1. Print. In today's digital landscape, print is still an important component of a successful strategy. To achieve the cohesive feel your customers want, your branding and messaging must carry through to your physical items as well as digital.

Along with any printed advertisements, consumer-facing businesses should consider in-store signage, menus and table toppers, coupons, and mailers. B2B companies should consider marketing collateral packages, brochures, data sheets, white papers, and other printed material.

2. Social Media. Consumer-facing businesses will always benefit from the ongoing personal connections made on sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You can integrate marketing strategies with informative posts, contests, coupons, and Q&A sessions.

B2B companies may think that social media isn't right for them, but LinkedIn is an easy way to reach thousands of like-minded professionals, and sites like Reddit have groups and boards for virtually every niche audience on the planet.

3. Search & SEO. Paid search advertising allows your links to be at the top of the list when people use search engines like Google to solve problems. SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of making your website and other digital content rise to the top of the unpaid search results.

Many companies likely have a presence on all three of these channels, but that's not necessarily a multi-channel strategy. What's missing is the thread that runs through your messaging that creates a cohesive experience for your audience.

For example, if you're running a pizza parlor and you're having a promotion for a $10 large pizza, you'll definitely want to promote that on your social media sites and may consider mailers to homes in the area. To round out your strategy, you might also do a Google AdWords promotion to capture anyone searching for "pizza offers near me."

To make this strategy effective and cohesive, your branding must be on point: make sure all your branding elements are present on every channel so the "look" of your offer is the same no matter where its encountered. This will help solidify your restaurant in the minds of your audience.

You could include a note on your mailers to "check in on Facebook" which will help others on Facebook see your promotions, and direct search engine users to a page on your website to print a coupon, and then direct them to your Facebook page to stay in touch.
When guests arrive at your restaurant, make sure they know they're in the right place with menus and table toppers that reflect the same branding in your other messages.

Customers First

What the above example shows is how to capture the attention of potential customers from a variety of channels, and then bring them into the fold where you can stay in touch. Otherwise, each channel would be a dead-end once your current promotions were completed.

A multi-channel approach works because it's focused on the needs of your customers. It provides the flexibility they need to interact with your company using whichever method is convenient in the moment. It also allows you to maximize the capabilities of each channel by boosting its potential through other channels, and that will keep your bottom line in check. In other words, a win-win for everyone.

While push marketing remains an important component of any customer acquisition or retention program, pull marketing has become even more so. Often times, consumers have already done much, if not the majority, of their research before reaching out to a salesperson. This is why content marketing has become such a critical part of any marketing program.

One of the most common forms of content marketing is the customer newsletter. It educates, creates thought leadership, and presents the company as a valued resource. Adding personalization makes this content even more compelling. One community-based healthcare system found out just how much.

After sending a traditional newsletter for years, the organization began matching the content to what it knew of patients’ health conditions. After about a year, it conducted a readership survey to find out how the new approach was being received.

The results?

• 93% of respondents felt the articles were relevant and of interest.
• 73% read the entire newsletter every time it came in the mail.
• 77% said it was easier and quicker to read.
• 95% said they became aware of services that were previously unknown.

Not only did the healthcare system solidify its relationship with existing patients, but nearly every one of these patients learned about some of the provider’s services they didn’t know about before. That’s great cross-marketing!

Because the organization tracked which articles patients received as well as patients’ usage of services, it was also able to calculate ROI on its efforts. ROI on individual articles ranged from $50 to $444 per dollar spent.

Would you like to add personalized content into your company newsletters? Talk to us about how!

First impressions matter. When a recipient reaches into his or her mailbox or picks up a piece of marketing collateral, what impression are they getting from your company? The quality of the folds you use is one of those details that matters more than you might think. Here is a five-point checklist to make sure your piece looks its best.

1. Create a mock-up.

Before finalizing the design, create a mock-up to make sure everything looks right. For example, check that folds don't run awkwardly through visual elements and that everything lines up correctly. You don't want to be making last-minute corrections because something got missed.

2. Double-check the folding sequence.

When the piece is run through the folding machine, the folding sequence is often different from how the panels appear on the printed sheet. Make sure that the panels are in the correct order even after the piece gets folded.

3. Allow for creep.

If you are doing multiple folds, adjust for creep. Especially with thicker paper, every time the sheet is folded, it moves over a little each time. If you are doing roll folds, each consecutive panel must be slightly narrower.

4. Don't assume it's machine foldable.

Don't assume that every piece is machine foldable. With more complex constructions, pieces may need to be hand folded. You don't want to be redesigning the piece right before the deadline to avoid an unexpected expense.

5. Consider the paper grain.

Ensure that the folds go with the grain of the paper, not against it. This will minimize the potential for cracking across those fold lines. If you have heavy ink coverage, you may want to pre-score the folds to keep them crisp.

These are five simple steps that can make for a piece that stands out in its professionalism and stays within the budget. Before creating any complex folds, talk to us first!

Print remains the bedrock of great marketing. However, marketing still needs to be multi-channel. As put so well by Lazar Dzamic of Kitcatt Nohr Digitas, a London-based creative agency, “People don’t think ‘offline’ and ‘online.’ They just see a brand in all its touch points.” In other words, there isn’t print marketing and digital marketing. It’s all just marketing. So how does print fit into this larger, omnichannel world?

Regardless of channel, marketing success starts with data. You want to gather as much data about your target audience as possible to make the message richer and more effective. You also want to present a consistent brand and marketing message across channels.

Here are some best practices to get you started:

• Verify and correct existing customer data.
• Update and expand on that data to learn as much as possible about each customer.
• Segment messages based on full customer profiles.
• Layer on personalization.
• Be consistent in your branding and messaging across all touch points.

When you develop the print portion of your campaigns, focus on those aspects that are unique to print or that are particularly suited for it:

• Invest in exceptional design that leaps off the page.
• Capture the richness and depth of printed color to create a lasting impression that digital cannot match.
• Add special effects such as coating, die-cuts, or embossing.
• Integrate tactile media such as textured surfaces, unusual coatings, or memorable stocks.
• Use dimension, folds, pulls, and other interactive elements to create a physical 3D experience.

Print offers unique benefits that cannot be replicated on a screen. Take advantage of them!

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